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New COVID-19 cases in Alaska up by 262% over the last week

State reports 2,872 additional COVID-19 cases over the last 5 days
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 4:37 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New COVID-19 cases in Alaska have increased by 262% over the last week compared to the week before, according to the state health department.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 2,872 additional COVID-19 infections over the last five days, for Dec. 29 through Sunday. The state only updates data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and does not update cases on holidays.

The state reported 560 Alaska resident cases for Dec. 29, 804 cases for Dec. 30, 271 cases for Dec. 31, 910 for Jan. 1 and 201 for Sunday. Of the total 2,872 cases reported for the last five days, 126 of those are among nonresidents, the state health department reported.

State cases data shows that new cases increased by 262% from the week of Dec. 20-26, to the week of Dec. 27-Jan. 2 During that previous week of Dec. 20-26, just 1,018 cases were reported for that entire period.

The rise in cases comes as the omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S. and the world. Alaska has now recorded seven confirmed cases of the omicron variant, but top state health experts say there are likely many more, as the process for sequencing COVID-19 specimens can take up to two weeks. Additionally, the state virology lab in Fairbanks was shut down last week due to storms in the Interior, which slowed the sequencing process even more.

The average rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita in Alaska is still lower than it was during the peak of the delta variant surge this fall, and Alaska ranks 47th out of all U.S. states for its average case rate over the last week. Cases across the country are rising, largely due to the rise of the omicron variant. While some studies suggest it may be less virulent than the delta variant, the omicron variant is highly transmissible.

The state also reported one additional COVID-19-related death on Monday — a nonresident in his 50s who was diagnosed in Fairbanks. Since the pandemic began in Alaska in March 2020, the state has identified a total of 947 Alaska resident deaths and 32 nonresident deaths that have been related to the virus.

Hospitalizations have remained somewhat steady over the last week, with the state health department reporting 55 people being hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide on Monday. The state’s hospital data dashboard shows there are 11 adult ICU beds left open in Anchorage, and 27 available statewide.

The state’s average rate of positive COVID-19 tests over the last week, which had sunk below 5% in the wake of the delta variant surge, is now over 12% according to state testing data. Health experts use the threshold of 5% to indicate when there is widespread virus transmission in a community.

According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, more than 60% of all eligible Alaska residents age 5 and older and military members are now fully vaccinated, and 67.8% have gotten at least an initial vaccine dose. The state health department reports that nearly 22% of eligible Alaskans and military members have gotten a booster dose.

Of the 2,872 COVID-19 cases reported by the state for the last five days, 2,746 of them were identified among Alaska residents of the following communities:

  • Anchorage: 1,491
  • Greater Wasilla area: 231
  • Juneau: 184
  • Eagle River: 143
  • Fairbanks: 119
  • Greater Palmer area: 75
  • Sitka: 44
  • Kodiak: 33
  • North Pole: 31
  • Chugiak: 30
  • Northwest Arctic Borough: 29
  • Ketchikan: 26
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area: 21
  • Haines: 20
  • Utqiaġvik: 19
  • Nome: 18
  • Homer: 14
  • Soldotna: 14
  • Girdwood: 13
  • Bethel: 12
  • Kenai: 12
  • North Slope Borough: 12
  • Bethel Census Area: 11
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough North: 11
  • Kotzebue: 11
  • Tok: 10
  • Unalaska: 10
  • Kusilvak Census Area: 9
  • Dillingham Census Area: 8
  • Seward: 8
  • Copper River Census Area: 7
  • Sterling: 7
  • Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula: 6
  • Houston/Big Lake: 6
  • Delta Junction: 5
  • Dillingham: 5
  • Valdez: 4
  • Hoonah-Angoon plus Yakutat: 3
  • Hooper Bay: 3
  • Nome Census Area: 3
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area: 3
  • Anchor Point: 2
  • Big Lake: 2
  • Cordova: 2
  • Healy: 2
  • Nikiski: 2
  • Petersburg: 2
  • Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area: 2
  • Skagway: 2
  • Aleutians East Borough: 1
  • Denali Borough: 1
  • Ester: 1
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough: 1
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough South: 1
  • Kodiak Island Borough: 1
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: 1
  • Metlakatla: 1
  • Willow: 1

Of the 126 additional nonresident cases reported over the last five days, 64 of them are in Anchorage, 16 are in Wasilla and 10 are in Fairbanks.

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